From the Introduction to ” Joan Ure, Five Short Plays”, Christopher Small wrote:
“ The plays were mostly short…but they concentrated an extraordinary amount of thought, feeling and imagination into small compass.“
Joan Ure (Elizabeth Clark) is better known in Italy than among theatre fans in Scotland or the UK . She was a founding member of the Scottish Society of Playwrights in 1973 and this production goes a iittle way to bringing visibility to her and her work in her home country of Scotland in this important year. Had she been writing now, it is possible she would have received far more support and attention. Several surviving grandees of the Scottish theatre and cultural scene, including Liz Lochhead and Kenneth Roy, remember her with great affection.
Joan Ure in Italy
by Gioia Angeletti of the University of Parma
I became interested in Joan Ure when in 2008 Valentina Poggi (my first mentor in Scottish literature when I was an undergraduate at the University of Bologna in the early 1990s) proposed me to work together on an edition of two of her plays translated into Italian.
This joint venture became the book Joan Ure, Come una ragazzina e Riprenditi la tua costola! Edizione italiana, con introduzione, dei drammi di Joan Ure, I See Myself as This Young Girl e Take Your Old Rib Back, Then (Rimini: Panozzo Editore, 2010). Since then Ure has been centre stage in my research on contemporary Scottish theatre and drama, because I believe that her crucial role as one of the two mothers of twentieth-century women’s theatre in Scotland (the other one is Ena Lamont Stewart) has not been sufficiently recognised yet.
My work on Ure mainly focuses on her unacknowledged importance as both a woman of the theatre (among her achievements in the 1970s are her contribution to the foundation of the Scottish Society of Playwrights and her promotion of the Scottish Stage Company ) and as a playwright who, at a time when the theatre audience was ready to applaud Noël Coward and the kitchen-sink drama by John Osborne, Shelagh Delaney and Arnold Wesker, pioneered a new dramatic style and new theatrical forms.
Ure privileged words on action; all her one-act plays are magisterial examples of a dialectical form of theatre in which meanings emerge through witty and sharp dialogues (often conflicting) between the protagonists. Her theatre is always cerebral and argumentative, encouraging the spectator to confront issues from the different points of view of the main characters, often without suggesting a unique and definite solution to the dilemmas they incarnate.
This is an aspect which I tend to highlight any time I teach Ure, as well as one of the main reasons why I find her work so challenging: as her Shakespearean rewritings paradigmatically show, Ure bravely faces controversial socio-political and existential questions (such as the role of woman – mother, daughter, wife – in modern society) without ever assuming arrogant or myopic attitudes but, on the contrary, sensibly and sensitively exhibiting all the complex nuances and facets of the human predicament.
On page and on stage, she certainly deserves more attention. A new edition of her work, for example, is long due, for scholarly reassessment but also for students to appreciate her artistry and beautiful writing.
Joan Ure in Italy
Joan Ure, Come una ragazzina e Riprenditi la tua costola! Edizione italiana, con introduzione, dei drammi di Joan Ure, I See Myself as This Young Girl (trad. Gioia Angeletti) e Take Your Old Rib Back, Then (trad. Valentina Poggi). (Rimini: Panozzo Editore, 2010). ISBN 978-88-7472-133-7
Joan Ure, Qualcosa anche per Ofelia, a cura di Valentina Poggi, Rimini, Panozzo Editore, 2007
Angeletti, Gioia, “Riletture e riscritture shakespeariane nel teatro scozzese contemporaneo: Something in it for Ophelia e Something in it for Cordelia di Joan Ure”, in Padri nostri. Archetipi e modelli delle relazioni tra “padri” e “figlie”, a cura di Saveria Chemotti (Padova: Il Poligrafo, 2010), pp. 205-247.
Ricercatore di Letteratura Inglese
Dipartimento di Antichistica, Lingue, Educazione e Filosofia (A.L.E.F.)
Area di Lingue
V.le San Michele 9
Universita’ degli Studi di Parma (http://www.unipr.it)